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  • the not knowing: cage and calvinism

    it’s been a while since i’ve been deeply unsettled by the lack of resolution in a film, especially if the film’s conceit is overall preposterous. however, having just experienced the disquieting jouissance of such cinematic bombast last night, here i am, with a need to verbalize and process this tormentand whom else would i have to thank for this but my favorite member of the coppola family, nicolas cage, rumplestiltskin of the dramatic arts that he is. what, then, of the film that originated this long-winded introduction of this disquiet from theological and epistemological perspectives? it would be none other than KNOWING (2009, dir. alex proyas). spoilers follow, so be forewarned, lest ye find not your salvation.

  • lostalgia

    for a good part of my life i’ve had trouble with the past, at least my own. it was uncomfortable to sit with, to remember, to make sense of. however, music has been the notable exception. even therein this feels fraught when i start to think about reunion shows and tours which continue to arise with an alarming frequency as bands and albums i grew up with push their 30th anniversaries (in some cases more). at varying points, i felt like these reunion shows were ridiculous. i didn’t full-on object from the standpoint that a band would be “cashing in” well after the fact. internally, though, i felt sheepish: was i trying to live in the past yet again? was i refusing to move on? such questions really prevented me from exploring these ways to reconnect to an earlier time and place. what tipped the scales, however, was the decision to see The Doobie Brothers about a year and a half ago.
  • a secret third thing

    this is neither a year in review post nor a resolutions post, but a secret third thing.

  • grief and rage makes us do funny things

    or at least makes us deal with abjection in new ways.

  • It's not really leaving if you have somewhere better to be

    2022 is proving to be a year of many profound changes. There are two big transitions going in my life: one professional, and one personal.

  • On finishing what you started

    In the best of times, “year in review”-style blog posts can be inspiring and provide an important sense of closure. When it’s not the best of times, they can be painful reminder of your own misgivings and missteps. Time has moved differently over the last two years, and the calendar itself no longer feels like a good marker of even the progression of days and months that have intervened. But here I am, wanting for the closure that such a review would provide. It feels dissatisfying not to remember that I have finished many things over the last 13 or 14 months, but the struggle to articulate them all has been incredibly real. While I may not touch on all of them, the goal is to describe some highlights to help me retain some perspective.

  • Perfecting a favorite: oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

    I have a horrible sweet tooth, and I absolutely love oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I tend to bake as a means to cope with stress, and of course, more often then that means making these cookies. After making many iterations, I’ve settled upon this recipe as the ultimate version to which all compare.

  • In Memoriam and Appreciation of Rob Casson (1974-2020)

    The world lost one of its brightest and most charming lights earlier this week, Rob Casson. Many of us knew Rob through the Code4Lib community and conferences and his work at Miami University Libraries. We miss his generosity, patience, sense of humor, and genuine kindness. Those of us who got the chance to socialize with him also remember his passion for music, and some of us were even lucky to see live shows in the evenings between conference sessions and other social activities.

    On Sunday, October 4 at 1:30 PM Pacific/4:30 PM Eastern, those of us who knew him through Code4Lib and the world of libraries are encouraged to gather to share our memories of him and to appreciate his life and work. Please join me and my co-organizers, Mike Giarlo and Declan Fleming on Zoom (registration required).

    Robert Casson (robcaSSon), 30 Jan 1974 - 29 Sep 2020.

    Robert Casson (robcaSSon), 30 Jan 1974 - 29 Sep 2020. Photo: Declan Fleming.

  • First SOTA activation

    About a month ago, I got my ham radio license, and soon after I got pretty curious about Summits on the Air (SOTA), an award scheme focused on safe and low impact portable operation from mountaintops. While I like to hike, I’m arguably a pretty casual hiker, and living in California provides a surprising number of options within 45 minutes driving time for SOTA newbies.

  • Optimizing friction

    Over and in response to the last few months, I’ve been reflecting about intentionality, and how I spend my time creating things. I have tried to improve the indiewebbiness of my site, and understanding what it means to “scratch my own itch”. This resonates particularly lately because it’s leading me to mull over which parts should be hard and easy. Unsurprisingly, much of that is personal preference, and figuring out how I want to optimize from the perspective of user experience. Friction in UX can be a powerful tool, part of what I’m trying to find is where I want to retain friction as it helps me remain intentional.

  • Besieged

    I have spent the last four and a half months feeling like everything is slipping from my grasp – personally, professionally, and in between. The torpor of life under a pandemic and a world wracked with pain has led me to feel like I am stuck in slowly-drying glue. Planning too far ahead seems nearly pointless. And yet, every day, we are asked to undertake haruspicy, to speculate about how our organizations and ourselves should respond to the remaining uncertainty, ideally with precision. The world keeps turning and we are asked to keep up, while taking care of family members, grieving our losses, or dealing with other challenges amplified by the present circumstances. At the same time, I feel myself slowing down, or at least to continue trying to slow down. I have not read anything more substantial than an article since February, despite getting a stack of books out of the library in preparation for more time at home. The cognitive load of mailing packages can sometimes be too much.
  • Books read, January-February 2020

    I’m trying to do a better job tracking what I’ve been reading. Here’s a start.

  • 2018: a year in gratitude

    This year was largely complicated and often felt like a massive garbage fire to myself and my crew. I didn’t accomplish a number of my goals and was inconsistent about others, so recapping awesome things I did doesn’t feel appropriate and also happens to be a soft reminder of either failure or things not going as planned. I also tend to hate “best of the year” lists but I find them helpful to remember about where I found joy or the ability to connect to something outside of myself. I suppose this is an attempt to reconcile those things, or perhaps more in line with the end of year spirit, a way to articulate gratitude to the people and things around me that impacted me.

  • When basil has gone to seed: contemplative pesto

    We are growing three kinds of basil in our garden: “regular” basil, purple basil, and Magic Mountain basil. The regular basil and Magic Mountain basil have been thriving quite a bit; the purple basil, less so, as it is growing at the base of the regular basil plant. But the other two, my goodness. The regular old basil was going to seed, though, much to the chagrin of my partner. I’d promised for weeks on end to do something with all that basil, as the stems grew woodier, and as the flowers turned from brilliant white to the brown of kraft paper. Meanwhile, the Magic Mountain basil also grew tall and bushy, went to flower, but only because that’s what it’s supposed to do.

  • Sumer Is Icumen In

    I have spent the last several months in a fog. Emotions tend to get the better of me whenever faced with a barrier in my work life. It's gotten increasingly difficult for me to see the forest for the trees, no matter how much I tell myself that my work is for the greater good of my unit, my institution, and archivy. Self-doubt creeps in, as does stress, frustration, depression. Positivity begins to wane, with optimism replaced by apathy and sarcasm. You stop seeing the good in things and other people, and you stop being inspired. You desperately want to get away, pull the plug, clean the slate, or otherwise just put everything to a grinding halt. You stop asking "why can't I do that?" and start asking "why should I care?" instead. I don't think this is the first time I've faced burnout, and while it certainly won't be the last, the extent to which it's affected me this time around is astounding.
  • In Memoriam: Robert Frost, 1952-2011

    I am sad to announce the passing of Robert L. "Bob" Frost (1952-2011). Bob was an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, my alma mater, where he had taught since 2000. Bob had been battling cancer for over two years. Ed Vielmetti has written an obituary of Bob on his blog, including the announcement from SI Dean Jeffrey Mackie-Mason. Bob was an inspiration to many of us SI alums, and his magnetic personality, sharp wit, and joie de vivre ensured he had a bevy of his students and colleagues buzzing around him at any given time. I had the opportunity to take his class Material Culture and the Interpretation of Objects in the spring of 2004, my final semester at SI. The class was intense in a way that few of my other classes at Michigan were, and it provoked my continuing curiosity in identifying theoretical frameworks to analyze the everyday world. Bob reinforced my fascination with Wilhelm Reich and The Fugs by introducing me to Dušan Makavejev's W.
  • Mid-November 2005 updates: Dalliance off the ground! Site changes galore! DC Not Bad!

    I've finally gotten around to doing some serious work on the site. I've completed the first post for my defunct blog, and it's about one of my favorite songwriters ever, Dr. Franklin Bruno. I've also figured out some of the odd intricacies of Drupal and am finally getting this site to have a look and feel of which I can be proud. I've settled in nicely to Washington, DC, and I'm living in a decent area of town within a reasonable interest of a decent watering hole, groceries, and the Metro. Halloween has come and gone; I dressed up as everyone's favorite St. Vitus dancer, Ian Curtis, complete with requisite noose. My friend Corey took similar cues as far as the era and scope of his costume, and chose to dress up as Henry Rollins. The weather has stayed mostly warm, so I've been spoiled on that front too. More changes are coming soon, so stay alert.
  • Off on my way: in transition to Washington, DC

    I'm pleased to announce that I will be joining the staff of the National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies Film Archives of the Smithsonian Institution's Department of Anthropology as a project archivist. I will have two initial primary responsibilities: cataloging Plains Indian ledger art for the non-profit ARTstor Project, and original cataloging and bibliographic enhancement of audio, film and video collections in support of the NAA's new Endangered Languages Program. This program also collaborates with the University of Utah's Center for American Indian Languages and is also part of the Documenting Endangered Languages project, supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. I will be starting work for the NAA/HSFA on September 6, 2005, and will be working on a 12 month term contract.